For this second interview on Keskidees, let’s meet with the talented and creative Amanda, who shares her appreciation of her home city and her path to make her passion flourish in Bakersfield.
Amanda, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Amanda Shaffer, also Amanda Shay. I am 26 years old and I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. I come from a large, modern and loving family. I am the oldest of five siblings where three of those siblings come from my mom and two come from my dad. I am currently living in Bakersfield where I have three growing businesses: A.Shay, Kern Creatives and The Studio.
Are you Bakersfield born and raised? Have you always lived here?
I am Bakersfield born and raised but I left the city at the age of 20 to live in San Francisco, initially to attend college. That took many twists and turns. I made some mistakes, had to make choices, hesitated with attending Kent State University in Ohio, and finally decided to finish my schooling at San Francisco State University, where I majored in Fashion Design and obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Apparel Design and Merchandise.
So what brought you back here, and made you stay?
I returned to Bakersfield for what was supposed to be a month of finding my next job in a new city. I ended up wanting to spend quality time here with my family for a bit longer and had new responsibilities that kept me from leaving. I was unsure where to head next professionally since I realized the fashion industry wasn’t necessarily where my heart was. As I had always intended working with clothing, that was a harsh analysis. But fashion is not always an industry, and slowly, I found my own way to make it enjoyable again…
I became more involved, volunteered – something I had always wanted to do. I help out in the Fashion class at Bakersfield High School (the very class which helped me find my passion for clothing) when I can. I helped put on a charity fashion show which benefited the Kern Autism Network. It was at this event that I ended up meeting Jocelyn Dimaya and we eventually became the best of friends, and later, business partners. Through all these activities, and benefiting good times with my family, Bakersfield became the place where I want to be.
What is your occupation today in Bakersfield?
Today I have combined a great deal of the things I love to make in my growing career. I have three different businesses: my clothing brand, A.Shay where I personally design and make clothing for women of all shapes and sizes, Kern Creatives, and The Studio – two businesses I have with Jocelyn Dimaya.
Kern Creatives aims to bring together the creative community in Kern County. We organize two main events to achieve more interactions and recognition of our local talents: a workshop night where a group of people get together and collectively create something over 3-4 hours and a showcase night where we share with the community what was created at the workshop. We want to spark inspiration, collaboration, and relationships with both of these events and bring businesses and creatives together. Kern Creatives is all about community.
The Studio is where Jocelyn and I teach sewing classes for children and adults. We organize events such as “Sip and Sew”: an adult sewing class where we interact, learn, and sew an awesome project and drinking wine or champagne (depending on the time of the class).
How do you see your city?
Bakersfield is beautiful, broken and growing.
I appreciate that I am from here, although not everyone does. I know that growing up in Bakersfield kept me unexposed to different cultures and ideals and for that I was curious. I was fortunate enough to live away from Bakersfield for a number of years, in a very busy city like San Francisco. I fell in love with this new life: the festivals, the cityscape, the adventures, the ocean. It wasn’t until I decided to replant myself in Bakersfield that I realized my appreciation for what it had taught me and the potential it has. I appreciate the beauty, acknowledge the flaws, and am overjoyed to work with other amazing and encouraging people that want to grow our city into what we believe it can be.
What would you miss from Bakersfield? Do you have a favorite place or activity in the city?
Some of the my favorite places and activities in Bakersfield include The Beale Memorial Library for aesthetics (they have a beautiful arboretum in the center of the library) and of finding books on all things textile related, and attending The Lobby open mic night at Temblor Brewing Company. And of course, if I ever leave Bakersfield, I would miss my family, friends and the community I have been a part of.
What would you recommend to a new dweller in order to discover the city, meet people and experience the Bakersfield culture?
I would recommend taking a trip downtown, walking into shops and sharing with the very friendly people who make the city. The Bakersfield Californian local paper and Bakersfield Life Magazine are both two good sources to find out events throughout the city. The Bakersfield Museum of Art and the Kern County Museum always have plenty going on as well. And the First Friday Art Walk is another fun and inclusive event that happens every first Friday of the month in downtown Bakersfield.
Is there a cherished or traditional recipe, a saying that suits the city or a memory in Bakersfield that you could share with us?
Not a recipe, but a family tradition: every Sunday we all have brunch at Don Perico Mexican restaurant. They have the best brunch buffet and you should try and ask for their bottomless mimosas… As for a saying… I attended Bakersfield High School and to this day I know it to be the best high school for many reasons. A saying any BHS affiliate knows is “Once a Driller, always a Driller”. I will represent that saying till my dying years.
Thank you Amanda for sharing your Bakersfield Story and experience… and see you on a bright Sunday morning at Don Perico’s : )
Don’t forget to visit Amanda’s, Kern Creatives’ and The Studio’s Instagram profiles or Facebook pages for updates and events!
All the images in this post come from Amanda’s A.Shay, Kern Creatives and the Studio. The featured image was taken by Sarena Hess for her podcast- Women for Greatness.